When we think of depression, symptoms such as numbness, sadness, and lethargy often spring to mind. Something we might not immediately think of, but have probably experienced, is a feeling of anger.
Depression makes us irritable
Irritability is often a symptom of depression, and it makes total sense; depression usually plays havoc with our sleep patterns. We spend the night tossing and turning, we wake up in the early hours of the morning or we sleep more than ever before. Lack of sleep causes irritability, and makes us less able to cope with day-to-day challenges. With depression often comes aches and pains, and our digestive system can also be affected, causing us discomfort. Pain makes us irritable and frustrated. Moreover, depression can be overwhelming. Getting through each day often requires Herculean stamina. The busy world, with its sights, sounds and smells, can feel like an assault on our senses. So much energy is directed towards trying to cope that, if anything goes wrong, or something else is added to the pile, we snap. We just can’t handle any more.
Sadly, our irritability is often directed at others, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This isn’t acceptable, but it is understandable. It’s good to wait until you feel calmer, then apologise, and explain how you felt at the time – it can be helpful for others to understand your perspective and give them a chance to help.
We don’t feel like ourselves
The classic symptoms of depression – disinterest, lethargy, sadness, detachment, and sleep problems, to name a few – can make our lives difficult. Suddenly, we’re don’t care about the things that we used to enjoy. We can’t concentrate on our favourite books, or TV shows. We don’t have the energy to get up, get dressed, and go out to meet friends. We’ve spent a lot of the night awake, and, the next day, our limbs feel like lead and we feel numb (or everything all at once!). So, we stop doing things. We start passing up opportunities and declining invitations. Soon, we might not recognise the person we’ve become. We feel as though we’ve lost ourselves to depression. This inevitably leads to anger; we become angry at depression, we might blame ourselves, and feel incredibly angry at our circumstances – why me, why has this happened?
There’s not an easy fix, but we can learn to manage some of our symptoms, allowing us to get back to doing the things that we enjoy. Meditation and mindfulness exercises often help with sleep issues. We can explain to our friends that we’d really love to catch up with them, but we struggle with feeling so tired. Perhaps they can come to our house instead? We can make small changes that will allow us to cope with our symptoms, and still feel engaged in our lives – easing the anger we feel.
We are frustrated with ourselves
Depression is an illness, yet we very often blame ourselves for having depression. We tell ourselves that we only have depression because we are weak or useless. We convince ourselves that if only we weren’t so lazy, that if we just tried a bit harder, we wouldn’t be depressed. This leads to frustration and anger. We tell ourselves that we should be able shake it off – so why can’t we just do it? It feels like a personal failing. We can ease this anger by being kinder to ourselves. When these self-blaming thoughts intrude, we need to try and remind ourselves that our depression is not our fault. It is an illness that we are doing our absolute best to cope with. Telling someone about these thoughts can help. An outside perspective can often help us to see more clearly that, despite what we might think, we are trying, and that we aren’t useless at all.
Depression is a thief
If we’ve been living with depression for a while, it can start to feel like it has been stealing from us. Before we had depression we might have enjoyed parties, packed concerts, and sports games. Now, these situations feel too overwhelming, too noisy and too busy. It can feel like we have lost an aspect of ourselves, of our identity; we are forced to come to terms with a new ‘us’. We may wish we could go back to how we were before. Depression can force us to give up work, or our studies, putting a stop to our life, for months or years. It’s common to feel that depression has stolen time from us, and to feel angry about what could have been. Depression can also make us lose touch with friends, or push away our loved ones. We might feel angry – both with the depression, but also with them. It’s very easy to get lost in thoughts of what could have been.
It can help to try and look towards the future, rather than ruminate in the past. We can’t change what’s happened, but we can set new goals that interest us, as we are now. We can reflect on the things that depression has taught us about ourselves, and what makes us happy – and make plans based on this. We can even try reaching out to the people that we previously pushed away, and explain what was going on for us at the time. They may have been hoping from afar to hear from us again. Looking forwards, and achieving new goals, can ease the anger we feel at depression’s thievery.
Depression can make us feel angry for so many different reasons. This anger is totally normal, common, and understandable – it doesn’t make us a terrible person.
Please help us to help others and share this post, you never know who might need it.